U.S. House passes bill to revive Obama-era net neutrality rules

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted on Wednesday to approve legislation that would reinstate former President Obama-era net neutrality rules that prevent internet service providers from meddling with web traffic.

Mike Doyle

The legislation, dubbed the “Save the Internet Act” from U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) passed the House 232-190, largely along party lines. One Republican, Bill Posey of Florida, broke ranks with his party to support the bill.

Michigan’s delegation voted on party lines, with all seven Democrats voting for the bill and all seven Republicans voting against it.

Doyle hailed the House passage of the legislation.

“There has to be some sort of cop on the beat,” he said in an interview with the Advance. “Right now there are no rules,” he added, calling it the “wild, wild West.”

During the President Trump era, the Federal Communications Commission voted in 2017 to toss out the net neutrality rules put in place in 2015 under the Obama administration. Those regulations barred broadband providers from blocking some websites or charging for some content.

U.S. Capitol | Susan J. Demas

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) was a co-sponsor of the bill.

“With strong Net Neutrality protections, users are back in control of the internet. An open internet allows everyone to browse the web, start a small business, and keep in touch with loved ones,” said Dingell. “This is about protecting fairness, openness, and competition. The only obstacle to internet access should be your battery charge. The House has stood up for consumers; now it’s time for the Senate to bring this bill up for a vote.”

But the measure faces long odds in the Senate, where U.S. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters this week that it was “dead on arrival,” and that it won’t see a vote in the GOP-led chamber. The White House has suggested President Trump would veto the measure if it reached his desk.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint), chief deputy majority whip, said that Trump is on the wrong side of net neutrality.

Dan Kildee

“Big corporations should not have the power to slow down, control or block internet access,” he said. “Access to the internet is fundamental to obtaining information and supporting a business in the 21st Century economy. For these reasons, I am proud to support net neutrality. It was wrong for the Trump Administration to undo net neutrality protections for consumers and businesses.”

Doyle said U.S. Senate supporters of the effort have “some strategies” to build support for the effort.

He noted that the chamber last year approved a resolution to undo the Trump administration’s rule reversal. That effort had the backing of three Republican senators and all of the Democratic senators.

Doyle said lawmakers will undoubtedly face pressure from their constituents to back the effort.

“This is big out in the country,” he said, and is only controversial in Washington, D.C. “This isn’t a partisan issue,” he added.

Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this report.

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the DC Bureau Chief for the Newsroom, a consortium of 10 nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.

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